Ratings - February-April 2007
Russell Degnan

Late. Don't care. Didn't Matter.

South Africa v Pakistan
South Africa (1093.35) v Pakistan (1110.41) - 3 Tests.

Opening Ratings: SAf: 1093.35 Pak: 1110.41
1st Test: South Africa by 7 wickets
2nd Test: Pakistan by 5 wickets
3rd Test: South Africa by 5 wickets
Closing Ratings: SAf: 1101.32 Pak: 1102.43

Squeezed in between the India series and the World Cup was perhaps one of the more interesting series of the past year. An emerging and improving Pakistan side against a South African side going nowhere, but playing at home. After their performance without them against England, Pakistan were pleased, if not dubiously lucky, to see Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammed Asif in the side again. Mohammed Asif anyway, who single-handedly prevented a massive South African win, by removing the first four batsmen in the first innings, before Prince and Gibbs - now batting down the order to protect him from a moving ball - took them to 100 run lead. Amla batted well in both innings, along with Kallis to get the win, but the first three innings were marked by batsmen making starts and not going on - the absence of run-machine Mohammed Yousuf beign significant.

The return of Mohammed Yousuf for the second test didn't change this, as no batsman made a century, although Inzaman, batting down at seven was stranded in Pakistan's first innings. The difference for Pakistan was a cameo spell from Shoaib, pickign up four wickets before injuring himself (again), and restricting South Africa to 124. Despite Ntini's efforts, passing 300 wickets, Kaneria and Mohammed Asif bowled lengthy and telling spells, grinding the South African batting out. Younis Khan and Kamran Akmal seeing their side home.

Class told in the final test, and Pakistan, while strong in some areas, are still too weak in others. Ntini (again) showed his skills, along with Kallis (more rarely these days) destroying Pakistan for 157. A peerless Mohammed Yousuf kept it from being an embarrassment, but it left the bowlers much to do. Mohammed Asif (again) and Kaneria (again) delivered, but Smith, finding an important time to return to form drew out a small lead. On a pitch that suited the seamers, even thirty runs can be decisive, and a repeat failure with the bat for Pakistan, and a key partnership from Kallis and Prince saw them home. Pakistan's lack of depth exposed as Kaneria and Mohammed Asif bowled themselves into the ground in vain.

South Africa may be on the improve again, with Prince and Amla showing some form. Their second consecutive series victory pushes them back to fourth, but there is nothing between them and the main three sub-continental sides, and all four lack depth of bowling and batting. Pakistan, seemingly challenging for second a year ago, are plagued by inconsistency, inuries and drug scandals, and slip back to fifth.

Forthcoming Series:

None, while we sit through an interminable two months of World Cup and associated lead up games that could easily have been squeezed into a month.

Australia (1st) 1441.45
England (2nd) 1174.65
India (3rd) 1105.52
Sri Lanka (6th) 1095.42
New Zealand (7th) 1065.59
West Indies (8th) 832.90
Zimbabwe (9th) 671.01
Bangladesh (10th) 599.27

Cricket - Ratings - Test 17th March, 2007 21:28:25   [#] [0 comments]